With one spinning, explosive kick, Walter Bera brought the roof down at the Minneapolis
Community College gymnasium Sunday afternoon.
It was delivered suddenly and unexpectedly and the crowd rewarded Bera for this rare treat
with a generous roar of approval.
His teammates responded with ear-to-ear grins and warm handshakes. His maneuver had
electrified the crowd, but it put him and his Minnesota teammates a leg up on the
California team they were competing against for the national state team Kumite
championship at the National Karate Tournament. The to
urnament included competition in kumite (fighting) and Kata (form). As it turned out, this
kick gave the Minnesota trio comprising of Bera, Joel Ertl of St Paul and Joe Mayrand of
Duluth the title. It was worth 1/2 point, the difference in the match.
There is no contact in this type of karate competition. The competitors pull their punches
and their kicks. But Bera theorized that, in a contact situation, the kick would have left his
opponent, Avi Rokah, with a couple of broken ribs.
Bera's kick gave his team a 1/2 point lead in the first of three matches. It was then up to
Mayrand and Ertl to protect that lead in their bouts. Mayrand drew with Toru Kellam, as
did Ertl in the final match against Vern Vaden, who has won several national titles and
"Mayrand did a great job against a very good counter-puncher," Bera said, "and Ertl was
tremendous against Verden. He gave him no target at all."
"I couldn't let him score on me," Ertl explained. "Walter gave us that 1/2 point and we
would have been down the drain without it. But if Vaden scored on me (and tied the
match) he and I would have had to fight again. He can be extremely tough when it's on
the line like that."
"I guess we were a little surprised to win it (the team title)," Ertl said. "Technique-wise,
we're as good as anyone here. But we don't have the experience."